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Berkeley Dean Supports ‘Torture Memo’ Author

Posted Apr 15, 2008 8:22 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The dean of the University of California-Berkeley law school says he doesn’t agree with the legal analysis of the author of one of the so-called torture memos, but that doesn’t mean he should be fired from his post as a law professor.

Dean Christopher Edley Jr. stated his views in a message posted on the law school’s website, the Associated Press reports. Despite his support, Edley said Professor John Yoo may have allowed politics to triumph over the law when he wrote the memos during his stint as a Justice Department lawyer.

"My sense is that the vast majority of legal academics with a view of the matter disagree with substantial portions of Professor Yoo's analyses, including a great many of his colleagues at Berkeley," Edley wrote. "If, however, this strong consensus were enough to fire or sanction someone, then academic freedom would be meaningless."

John Yoo wrote in a recently declassified 2003 memo that treaties and criminal statutes against torture and assault don’t apply to military interrogators questioning al-Qaida suspects overseas because the president has authority as commander-in-chief to override them. The memo justified harsh interrogation tactics and referred to an earlier memo outlining his thinking about a terrorism exception to the Fourth Amendment.

In an e-mail to AP, Yoo refused to respond to Edley’s statement.

"I am enjoying my teaching, research and writing at UC Berkeley, as I always have since 1993," he wrote. "I have always enjoyed the company of liberals, and while I cannot speak for them, I am sure they are not threatened by having a lonely conservative voice on the faculty."


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